Pressemitteilungen 13 Jul 03, The Sunday Times


Aussie airmen hailed


FOUR Australian World War II airmen will be buried with full military honours in Berlin tomorrow, almost 60 years after they were shot down while on a bombing mission over Germany.

Pilot Ivan Durston, 32, wireless operator Robert Ludlow, 31, upper gunner Phillip Gill, 20, and rear gunner Jack Sutherland, 22, were lost with three British crew navigator Harold Fry, flight engineer Francis Aver and bomb aimer Sidney Griffiths 40km north of Berlin on January 29, 1944.

A search for the wreckage of the Lancaster ED 867, which took off from the Waddington base in Lincolnshire soon after midnight, found only the body of Mr Griffiths after the plane was shot down more than three hours after take-off.

The remains of the rest of the crew were found two years ago.

The men, part of Royal Australian Air Force 467 squadron, were heading for Berlin.

Mr Griffiths was initially buried in a cemetery at Birkenwerder, near the crash site, then his remains were transferred to the Berlin 1939-45 war cemetery. His crewmates will be buried near his grave.

A memorial service, which will feature the unveiling of a plaque by Australia's chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston, will take place at the crash site near Oranienburg. A burial service will follow in Berlin.

RAAF personnel and members of the Queen's colour squadron of the Royal Air Force will lead the funeral procession. The Last Post will be sounded and a piper will play a lament. Several of the dead airmen's relatives are expected to attend the service.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which cares for scores of cemeteries throughout Europe, will provide headstones. There is already a memorial for the crew of Lancaster ED 867 at Runnymede Memorial.

The fallen airmen were part of the famous RAAF 467 squadron, which had 20 Lancaster bombers at its peak.

The squadron set a string of wartime records and took part in nearly every major effort of the strategic bombing campaign.